Education is one of the slowest professions to change. We have been using the same classroom layout since the Jesuit schools in the 1400s. The content only changes with time and we make new discoveries and new works are written. The way that we teach, while diversifying, is many times the archaic direct instruction. Many theories are decades old. Over and over and over we try to change policy to improve student achievement. And the policies are only new versions of the old. And student achievement stagnates.
And what have we done? We have crippled our education system through assessment, review, testing, and teaching reproducible content. We have made education predictable. In many ways, we have made it common. Where is the vision of critical thinking? Where is the movement to creativity? We test. We review. We remediate. All for what? Wasn’t it Albert Einstein that said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Well, that is where we are. Our education system is insanity.
So, as we embark on this new semester, I think a key word that we need to adopt is flexibility. Some of us are face to face. Some online. Some both. And, things could change. We need to be flexible. We need to be able to change. Change is going to happen. Instead of fighting it, we need to embrace it.
We are all in a time of great potential. We can try things. We can experiment with new technologies. We can experiment with new pedagogies. We can flip classrooms, twist up our lessons, and create new forms of assessment. Now is a time to be creative. Now is a time to be critical of our practices and experiment.
So, to each of you, I urge you to try something new this semester—something you have never done before. It is okay to fail. Turn that failure into a lesson. Teach our students that one of the greatest skills we have is to create.
Hello everyone! My name is Andrew Thomas Kemp. My parents gave me that name because they thought it would sound good if I ever became president. My middle name, Thomas, was my paternal grandfather’s name. His name was Thomas Eugene Kemp. While I was born with the name Andrew, I go by Drew to people that know me. Andrew is my professional name (for scholarship), but people I know call me Drew. And, I am Drew. While I love my name (there aren’t that many Drews out there), it was problematic when I was a child because it happens to rhyme with something that children loved to taunt me with. Yet, I am still Drew. I am not Andy. I am not AT. Just, Drew.
You might be wondering why I am sharing this.
We are teacher educators. Our job is to help create fantastic teachers. Our job is to create teachers that teach all children. When I say that, I mean all children. And those teachers that we are helping to become teachers (and ourselves) must respect the identity of each and every student that we have. What does that mean? We must learn to pronounce names. We must teach our students to pronounce names. We must learn to not make a subtle face (microaggression) when we read a name that is odd (I have had students names Tekela, Porsche, Korvette, and Thorn Bush). We all identify with our names.
At the same time, we all identify with our pronouns. I am a he/him/his. My wife is a she/her/hers. However, there are people that identify with other pronouns and we, as educators, must respect those identities.
In our department, we have a student that uses the pronouns they/them/theirs. This is how they identify themselves. This is their identity. This is who they are. I know for some people this is awkward or problematic. Don’t let it be. It is a name. It is personal. They work in our department. They deserve our respect.
And this goes for everyone you meet. When you meet someone, you won’t know her/his/their name. You ask. You introduce. At the same time you won’t know how she/him/they identify. You might get it wrong. If corrected, you need to respect that and work to use the preferred pronoun.
We, as teacher educators, have the responsibility to not only teach all students, but to respect all students. And each other.
If you have questions about this, please feel free to come and talk to me.
Have a wonderful Friday!
As we prepare to embark on what is going to prove to be a fickle fall 2020 semester, there are a few things I would like to share with you. Let’s call them my Tuesday thoughts. Most importantly, there is something that is utmost importance to me. Respect. We are an assemblage of colleagues with a common goal—creating a better education system through teacher education, research, scholarship, and service. With that in mind I have a few thoughts.